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Goldwater Institute Sues Arizona Department Of Education

Earlier this week, the Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Education. The suit pertains to the 50-page handbook of policies and procedures used by the department to help participating parents utilize their school vouchers.

Timothy Sandefur is the vice president of litigation with the Goldwater Institute. He says the department’s 50-page Empowerment Scholarship Account handbook is unlawful.

"When the government, when a government agency adopts rules, it's allowed to do that, but it has to follow a procedure that set out in Arizona law that requires public input and discussion over those proposed rules," he said. 

Another concern is that the handbook is constantly changing, which can lead to confusion about vouchers.

But Superintendent Kathy Hoffman says that was an issue during former Superintendent Diane Douglas’ administration, too.

"So when, when we came on board, and we were making improvements to the program and changing leadership for the program, we did make improvements to the handbook at the beginning of the year. But then we made it very clear that we would not make any further changes within the same year," Hoffman said. 

In 2017, the Goldwater Institute asked the Attorney General’s Office to review the handbook, and acknowledge that some items were rules. The AG's office denied that request and said the handbook clearly states it’s a guide.

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Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.